You Can’t Own the Value of Cars, Only the Physical Cars Themselves

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My friend and colleague David Kramer just wrote an important blog “Stocks, Bonds,…Toyotas???” making the point that the owners of Toyotas are improperly suing that automobile company on the ground “that the resale value of their cars has dropped dramatically because of the recent recalls.”

The present blog is a follow-up to that one.

First, if the owners of Toyotas should sue anyone on this ground, it should not be the Toyota company. Rather, it should be the owners of Government Motors (aka General Motors) who have exacerbated a rather ordinary and relatively minor problem into a Federal Case. And, I do mean Federal Case. Those members of Congress who were grilling the president of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, should have recused themselves on the grounds of conflict of interest: they are employees of an organization (the US government) that owns a competing automobile company, the aforesaid Government Motors. (By the way, this is the only reason I have been able to come up with in support of the US takeover of what was formerly General Motors. This is like saying that one argument in favor of the present prohibition of drugs is that at least the government doesn’t fill its coffers from taxing legalized drugs.)

Second, David is entirely correct in saying that you can’t own the value of cars, only the physical cars themselves. Hans Hoppe and I have written a journal article elaborating on that very point:

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann and Walter Block. 2002. “Property and Exploitation,” International Journal of Value-Based Management, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 225-236.

5:09 pm on March 9, 2010